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16th-Mar-2015 04:56 pm - Hit the ground running

Last summer, Chipper was the perfect age to start his jump training (and, um…he was over a year old. No babies wrapping their not-yet-fully-formed bodies crazily around objects here). Linda Mecklenburg was working through the chapters in her upcoming book (Mastering Jumping Skills), and I had the amazing privilege to work through the material with Chipper.

I’m not the world’s most amazing trainer, and certainly my training of Chipper is just me interpreting, to the best of my abilities, and applying. And plenty of times, I interpreted wrong and had to re-do. But, holy smokes. It’s downright amazing. I mean really. That woman is a genius. This should not be news to anybody, of course. But still.

He has no idea where he is going, or what he is doing, but he can JUMP. In 2015, thus far, he has dropped ONE bar in competitions. AKC at 24″, and USDAA at 22″, whether there are two runs each day or seven, he’s kept all of them up save one.

That, to me, is a pretty incredible testament to a jumping program. He’s incredibly immature, it’s laughable the enthusiasm with which he attacks a course. Makes me giggle while I’m running him, he’s so…..Chipper. One of those trials, in January, he had I think seventeen runs or something crazy like that (USDAA). And no bars down.

Of course, it’s not just the jumping, the flatwork training is all wrapped up in the jumping, it’s all part and parcel of a full package. Despite his enthusiasm, not knowing where he’s going, or if he should even TAKE a jump, despite my quick movements, and his lack of ability (yet) to look at bigger chunks of a course at a whack, despite his awkward attempts to figure it out….he’s doing it, and remarkably well.

If it seems like I’m waxing on and on, well, I am. I’m pretty impressed by it all.

Sure, his dad is Solar. I’m sure that there is natural talent there that counts for something. But I’m impressed by the clear amount of young SKILL that is blooming here. LEARNED skill.

It’s simultaneously amazing and highly entertaining, because I can’t for one instant take a dog seriously who really wants to suck on his blankie…still. And yes, we travel with it.  :roll:

Thanks to a great team this past weekend, Chipper’s USDAA DAM Team came in first, so at the tender age of not-yet-two, he’s managed to bobble his way to being qualified for Cynosport in Team. And then, he managed to wobble his way to a bye in GP and a first in Steeplechase as well, in both rounds. Now I have to decide if I want to take him to Cynosport. Road trip, anybody?? No way am I flying 3-4 dogs…Juno has qualified for Steeplechase, Team, and GP herself, as has Frodo, and Solar. Decisions, decisions.

Chipper seems as though he’s shaping up to have a somewhat unorthodox jumping style (at least, to my eyes, and at least at 22″ – he seems to jump better at 26″, but he’s nowhere near ready for THAT challenge!). But he seems to be getting the job done. And sometimes, unorthodox can lead to great things :) A friend of mine pointed out a similarly unorthodox jumper. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to watching a certain documentary this evening! Chipper video from the weekend follows the trailer…made in a day before explosions and fancy edits were needed to sell a movie :)

And yeah, his sit stay IS that half-formed. Adds to the thrill :) Juno has NO sit stay, that is our compromise. I want her to run? Then I can’t lead out. I can deal with that.

But hey, the REAL major accomplishment this weekend, he ran to his LEASH on several runs instead of latching on to my ankle as I headed there myself!

Originally published at DaisyPeel.com. Please leave any comments there.

19th-Nov-2014 06:48 pm - The DogTread Experiment

Although I can’t prove it, I’m pretty sure that the winter was largely to blame for Solar’s injury last spring. Heading toward AKC Nationals in March, I felt, like I have for several years, that having a big event just a couple months after the worst of the PNW weather put all of us (dog, and handler) at increased risk of injury. Yes, I should have been doing more conditioning during the winter months. Yes, I *could* have been. But, let’s face it, the weather is often pretty depressing – if you’ve not spent a winter in the PNW you have yet to experience the willpower­sucking quality of the constant low, grey light, and rain or drizzle. I’m a pretty motivated person. But, the winter months, well, the weather outside makes it easy for me to sit in front of the computer all day working on video reviews that take me half the time when there is sunshine outside.

This year I have put a lot of effort in to conditioning myself and my dogs, in an effort to prevent future injuries, rehabilitate existing ones, and to get a jump start on the winter months. If I can make it a habit, I’m more likely to keep it up when my will power is low. We’ve walked nearly 200 miles since this past spring. I’m more than halfway through a couch to 5k program, and most of those runs have been with the dogs, on the trails (a few have been me on the treadmill). And, this morning, I started up again with a personal trainer, a move that I am sure I will regret tomorrow morning, but that I am ultimately excited about – I found somebody to come to the HOUSE! And, she’s interested in setting up classes with my students!

And so, two weeks ago, I bit the bullet and acquired a treadmill. For the dogs. To be honest, I REALLY dislike any sort of conditioning that doesn’t serve as conditioning for me AND for the dogs at the same time. It just seems like an inefficient use of my time, really. And, I’ve seen several treadmills that just looked….cheap. And too small.

So, when Bobbie Lyons (the K9 Conditioning Instructor in the Online Classroom) pointed me in the direction of DogTread treadmills, I listened. She was instrumental in helping me rehabilitate Solar after his psoas injury, and she’s good at what she does. She’s also my type of “coach” – she knows when to stand firm in my way and TELL me to do something, and she knows when sounds or looks of disappointment will get me to move in the right direction :)

First, it arrived:

What's in the box, mom?

What’s in the box, mom?

Really, it didn’t weigh too much; the pallet it came on weighed as much as or maybe more than the DogTread treadmill itself. I unpacked it in the garage to see what was inside:

DogTread treadmill, neatly packaged up

DogTread treadmill, neatly packaged up

Not much to it, and two people (one of them me) could fairly easily carry it up the stairs to its resting place. The manual included made for a very easy set up, and the dogs are already curious about this new toy. It’s clearly well made – I turned it on, and cranked it up to see if there were any rattles or squeaks, and it hummed along smoothly and quietly.

The treadmill's current designated space

The DogTread treadmill’s current designated space

Next step…familiarizing the dogs with the treadmill! I’ve got a spreadsheet made up for each dog, and will be starting in on a program, with Bobbie’s guidance, as soon as the dogs have learned how to stay on the treadmill. AND, I’ve got some material to go through, too. I also got an instructional DVD with the treadmill, as well as a journal. Those products are aimed more at pet people, from the looks of them, so I’ll likely be relying on Bobbie’s guidance regarding how to proceed. And, I’ll be keeping a record here on my blog of my experiences with this treadmill, which, from the looks of it, is a GREAT investment!

Chipper would like to know what IS this thing?

Chipper would like to know what IS this thing?


Check out the DogTread website by clicking here.

Check out the DogTread website by clicking here.

Originally published at DaisyPeel.com. Please leave any comments there.

24th-Oct-2014 10:22 am - The Brass Ring

This year, I took only Frodo to the USDAA Cynosport World Games. Solar is now injury free, but I did not feel ready to step to the line and run free with him at 26″, the height he qualified at. So, I figured that it would be a good opportunity to focus only on Frodo, who, at just over 2 years old, would need a lot of emotional support at his first National event.

Are we going in the same or opposite directions?

Are we going in the same or opposite directions?

I’m still not sure Frodo and I see eye to eye. I’m not sure anybody sees eye to eye with Frodo. He is such a sweet, sensitive soul, and so intelligent and in some ways so capable. In other ways, he is completely confused as to how his actions have anything to do with the consequences they bring, confused and worried about the world around him, the world under his feet.

That easy, instant bond that can come when snuggling a puppy that still has puppy breath – it never happened with Frodo and me. It seems strange to admit it, and I’m sure there are those who will think less of me for doing so, but I do not love him. I’m fond of Frodo. And increasingly, I have respect for Frodo. But I don’t feel particularly motherly for him. I feel a lot of guilt over this – my disappointment in myself for having difficulty being completely invested in little Frodo. But the harder I try to give my heart over to the endeavor, the more complicated things seem to get with Frodo. He seems to do best when I am least emotionally invested in what we are doing at any given moment. If I am going through the motions – going through the motions of being happy, sad, disappointed…without actually FEELING those emotions, he seems at his best. I really have no idea how to have a relationship with a dog that is not fierce, fiery, fabulous. Quiet, elegant, subtle…not sure those are my strong suits…yet.

I like grabbing on to a course and shaking it, like a tug toy, with my canine partner. It’s just who I am. I want the dog to tug with me, out there, on the course, metaphorically speaking. Poor Frodo, he sees that in me, and wants to go hide somewhere safe. And then the cycle continues – I try to reel myself in, and then I’m disappointed that I have to BE that way, and have difficulty then taking genuine pleasure in all the things that Frodo can do very nicely.

First world problems, to be sure.

Somehow, Frodo and I managed to be just one below the cutoff for Steeplechase Finals. A class that *Solar* has trouble getting in to the finals in. And to top THAT off, as luck would have it, Frodo was the last 26″ dog to squeak into the Grand Prix Finals. I walked away from Cynosport with Frodo knowing less about our relationship with one another than I did when we arrived, less about which self I need to present to him, be for him. I walked away feeling disappointed in myself for not being able to be my best me for Frodo.

I still have no idea who the real Frodo is, and I’m not sure he knows who, or WHAT, I am. Instead of being proud that my two year old dog, who is afraid of surfaces, heights, and all manner of unexpected things, who gets beat up by his housemates (although not as much now that he is neutered) made the finals, I walked away with a sense of confusion, bees buzzing in my ears. Who is Frodo? Who am I with Frodo? Who does Frodo need me to be? Being the ringbearer is a hard thing, I suppose. He certainly seems to behave as though he feels he has some heavy burdens to bear. Yeah, he’s just a dog. Get over it, stop anthropomorphizing. It’s a mechanical skill. Just execute it. Don’t overcomplicate it.

Finalists - babes in the woods

Finalists – babes in the woods

Going to Nationals with Frodo was like starting all over again. I’m glad I didn’t take Solar – I need to figure out who I need to be for Frodo to be his best, and certainly the issue is mine and not his. And so, we will try again next month at the US Open. Or rather, **I** will try again next month at the US Open. I was pretty sure what that brass ring was with Solar – I’m not so sure with Frodo, but I’m pretty sure it’s in a direction opposite to any path I’ve taken before.


The REAL brass ring for me, at Cynosport, the trophy I got to bring home, was a houseful of incredible house guests. It was a family reunion of sorts…and we got some not too awkward family photos out of the deal:

Awkward family photo
Rear: Juno, Solar, Chipper. Front: Wonder, Special, Scopey, puppy.


Two generations of full siblings. Juno, Solar, Wonder, Special, and Scopey are all full siblings. Chipper, a Solar son, and unnamed puppy, a full sibling.

Some great discussions, and some great times training and running courses, with Lori Michaels and Linda Mecklenburg. I was so happy to be able to feed everybody good oatmeal, give them beds to sleep in, an arena to play in, a UKI trial to compete at…

Back in 2004 when I first visited Linda Mecklenburg in Ohio for a camp, I was blown away by her property. It was clearly for the dogs. I was so proud to be able to bring her to MY property, to share the space – she’s never made a mortgage payment but in a very real way she set me on a path to be able to HAVE this space to share with others.

It felt like the coming around, full circle.

I’m not much for unicorns and rainbows – I’m action oriented, I’m much more pragmatic than warmfuzzy, more science and logic than intuition, but having Linda, and Lori, and Julie D, and Anna H here…it was DEFINITELY magical. The collective agility brainpower here this week was off the charts, for sure.

I’m very happy to say that not only have *I* benefitted from the company I kept this past week, but in the very near future, OTHERS will benefit as well, and I’m looking forward to that – to the business of helping others. Yes, agility is completely unnecessary – it’s not world peace, it’s not curing cancer, it’s a first world activity, that the privileged and elite (that’s you, if you’re an agility enthusiast reading this) in the world have the time and money to be able to afford to participate in. But even so, being good at something, and being able to help others be good at something, it’s fulfilling.

Originally published at DaisyPeel.com. Please leave any comments there.


To the Agility Advisory Committee (or to whom it may concern),

I would like to propose the following for your approval:
  • Rename the current ISC class to be “Master’s Choice” (agility and jww). The name ISC is inappropriate at this time, in my opinion, for a couple of reasons. First, it is not a sweepstakes class, since, to my knowledge, winning money is not something that is regularly a part of holding the class in the first place. Second, the term “international” may prevent those who are seeking more challenging courses but who do NOT have interest in travelling internationally to compete from entering in and enjoying full benefits of participation in these types of courses
  • Make “Master’s Choice” a REGULAR class. This means that whether or not there are any entries in the class, it MUST be offered on any day that Excellent and Master’s level agility and jww classes are offered.
  • Require that dogs have an AX and/or AXJ to compete in Master’s Choice. Successful completion of a Master’s level title should not be a requirement for entry into Master’s Choice classes.
  • Offer the following titles in the Master’s Choice classes:
    • MCA (master’s choice agility – 10 legs)
    • MCJ (master’s choice jww – 10 legs)
    • MCCH (master’s choice champion – 20 qqs and 2250 speed points)
  • Due to the more challenging nature of Master’s Choice classes, offer 3x speed points for seconds under time. Note that the MCCH speed points above are calculated based on 3x the speed points required for a MACH
  • Offer the option of getting q’s for the AKC NAC from Master’s OR Master’s Choice. Speed points may come from either. Legs may come from any combination of the four classes (agility and/or jww in master’s/master’s choice).
  • Competitors may only enter Master’s or Master’s Choice on any given day. They may not enter both, or a combination of both. Either Master’s in both agility and jww, or Master’s choice in agility and jww. This way QQ’s for NAC are not a combination of Master’s/Master’s Choice. Additionally, trial entry limits need not be adjusted if competitors can only enter one or the other division.
  • Offer Master’s Choice at all the regular jump heights AND Preferred Jump heights
  • Accordingly, offer the following titles:
    • PMCA
    • PMCJ
    • PMCCH
    • See above for requirements
  • International Team Tryouts scores must come from Master’s Choice but can come from ANY height that the dog would regularly be able to jump in competition. We do not need to be jumping our large dogs at 26″ all year long, creating unnecessary risk for injury. If a handler can handle a dog through a Master’s Choice class at the regular jump height, and is motivated to be successful at ITT, let them use their best judgement with regard to the height their dog jumps at.
  • At shows interested in doing so, offer MASTER’S CHOICE SWEEPSTAKES classes. These would be Master’s Choice classes, as usual, with the added benefit of the current “big” ISC courses, where handlers can win a spot at the ITT automatically. Offer these sweepstakes classes at ALL heights, however, and make them a real SWEEPSTAKES – meaning, a % of the fees collected should go back to the competitors at these Master’s Choice Sweepstakes events.
  • Make sure that the Master’s Choice courses contain challenges that are “reflective of the highest standards of agility handling and training around the world”. We devalue the talent possessed within the ranks of AKC agility competitors by constantly referring to international courses and challenges as something in some way superior to the agility we can find at home.
  • Give judges the leeway to design Master’s Choice courses that test handler’s handling skills. By the time handlers get to Master’s Choice they should be prepared for ANY challenge, and so regular course design restrictions should NOT apply. Strongly suggest nesting courses from Master’s so as to minimize the burden on clubs and fellow competitors, but purposefully keep design choices unrestricted except to state something similar to that found on page three here: http://www.fci.be/circulaires/64-2012-annex-en.pdf
    • An agility judge should always take into account that agility should be fun for the dog, the handler and the
    • spectators.
    • An agility judge should be able to design a course with the correct level of difficulty.
    • An agility judge should have worked a dog her/himself so he can appreciate what it is like being an agility
    • competitor.
    • An agility judge should always be fair and just. Personal feelings should not interfere with her/his decisions.
    • An agility judge should be unwavering, confident and courteous.
    • An agility judge should be able to make quick and reliable decisions.
    • An agility judge must be capable of adjusting her/his course design at a moment’s notice, for example due
    • to the weather conditions or the condition of the floor surface.
    • ALSO course design can be adapted from the same document, see page 7-forward
    • OF NOTE: Page 11 of this document states:
      • The course should have the right degree of difficulty. A course should be fluent and traps are to be avoided.
      • Accordingly, more challenging need not be equal to “more traps”
  • Use regular equipment for Master’s Choice courses – keep contact zones and jump heights the same so as to minimize the financial and time impact on clubs. It is the HANDLING challenges that should be emphasized here. Those that want to go to international team tryouts know the contact zones are smaller and can be expected to do their homework. This need not be a burden placed on clubs or other competitors who are just seeking a higher level of challenge without ITT aspirations.
I’m sure that there are things that I have left out here. However, I believe that the AKC Agility Program possesses a body of competitors with talent as yet untapped, and that the institution of a Master’s Choice program will allow competitors to explore what they and their dogs are truly capable of in a challenging, sportsmanlike, and fun fashion.
Thanks you for your consideration,



Daisy Peel

Originally published at DaisyPeel.com. Please leave any comments there.

17th-Jun-2014 11:47 am - Putting on performance pants

I am continuing to explore the joys of being a soft touch. Juno, and Frodo, and to some extent Chipper, all require this of me, and so I continue to work on becoming. Becoming quieter, lighter, gentler, asking not telling, being demanding of myself and not so much of them.

Really, REALLY focusing on performance and not outcome. It’s easy to SAY I’m focusing on performance and not outcome when I know that the outcome is highly likely to be very good (i.e. Solar, having reached comfy sneakers stage). It’s NOT so easy to say I’m focusing on performance and not outcome when I have no idea what the outcome will be. When I look in the results book and next to Juno’s name, it says NO TIME, over and over and over again. I can’t help it, I’m in this for the outcome. If I wasn’t, you’d never see me at a show.

But that’s a half-truth, because I’m in it for the type of outcome that can only be HAD with a particular type of performance. If you look on paper, Juno and I have had 25 runs now, over the past three weekends, and we have a qualifying result on TWO of those runs. But we have had the makings of brilliant performances in ALL of those runs. Juno and I went to the line 13 times this past weekend, happy for every run. Not only happy, I even got a start line lead out in a couple of those runs. Friday’s runs were absolutely exhilarating, and left me feeling high all day long. It was absolutely amazing. I have, in the past, been able to get myself in to the proper headspace for one or two runs in a weekend, but NEVER thirteen. By the end, we were both tired, but it was a GOOD tired – and I decided to stop at thirteen, scratched the last few runs, and headed home. No ribbons, but a HUGE sparkly sense of accomplishment.

Am I getting anywhere? Will these lessons stick? I sure hope so…

Here are a few runs from this past weekend, at the USDAA Trial.

I hardly have any agility shots of Juno, because historically, I see them and she just looks sad. But for the past couple of weekends, we’ve had a LOT of happy shots, and I’m looking forward to many more.


Originally published at DaisyPeel.com. Please leave any comments there.

4th-Jun-2014 09:21 am - Under the curve


Do you see it? It’s there,

in the spaces before, between, after,

in the pictures you don’t see here.

Being at point A, or point Z, or any point between -

Hey, I’m here, I made it. Crap.

There I go, falling off as soon as I put my heels down and settle to enjoy it.

Any one point, like a single frame in a movie, on it’s own,

without context, meaningless.

Even several points, plotting a curve, a trajectory,

a trend.

That’s not it either.

Must keep my core engaged, constant tiny movements,

paying attention to each one only in a relativistic sense.

Don’t stand still, keep moving, wavering, dodging,

looking out of the corner of my eye for stars not visible

when I look for them directly.

Look at it, and it’s gone.

Reach for it, and miss entirely,

fall face first on an empty feeling.

Reinforce based on behavior relative to the last time,

predicting how this moment will influence the next.

A calculus of behavior.

Do you see it? It’s not a single point,

not a moment, a trophy, a ribbon.

Not who I have become, but what I have becoming,

am becoming, will become.

Look at any one moment and meaning shrinks to zero.

It’s the area under the curve.

Integration as a process, a puzzle in the solving, as yet unsolved.

Still I grasp and miss, though I get the idea.

More like this

Originally published at DaisyPeel.com. Please leave any comments there.

1st-Jun-2014 05:31 pm - Music for a found harmony

This might not look like much to you, but to me, this is the sweetest victory I’ve ever enjoyed.

For nearly four weeks now, Juno and I have been engaged in exploring how we might connect better on course, and this past weekend, we took our new show on the road, in to the ring, for the first time. This weekend, three days, AKC, and my plan was to NOT finish a single course…not on PURPOSE anyway. If we got caught up in the moment and FOUND ourselves at the end of a course together, well, that would be amazing. But since we’re only up to 7-9 obstacles at home with our new plan, that was about the maximum I figured I would do in the ring. The focus was on fast, fun starts, and fast, fun finishes.

Next weekend is another three day AKC trial, and I am looking forward to it like you would not believe.

You simply cannot imagine how excited I am to do even a FEW obstacles in a row, in the ring, with this Juno. My plan is the same – we might do 1 obstacle, we might do 20. I don’t really care. Just to step in to the ring and have THIS…what a rush. I’m a fairly goal oriented person, this is not typically how I operate…so I assume that THIS is the lesson to be learned here, and intend to enjoy learning it, at long last.

The Juno that has been there all along, waiting for me, if I can just find my way to her. This Juno, I have never seen her in the ring, not with me at the wheel…until this weekend. So proud of my girl…

Must remember….

You’ve got to change your behavior.

Originally published at DaisyPeel.com. Please leave any comments there.

12th-May-2014 12:59 pm - Sugar Substitute

This weekend I headed down to Salem for a USDAA trial – the first for a club in the area that previously only did AKC trials. I’m super happy to have more USDAA trials in the area, and hope that it becomes a tradition, even after Cynosport moves away from the West Coast again. The trial secretary did a great job, and aside from the very soft and dusty surface (not through lack of effort from the trial organizers), the trial was well run and the atmosphere was great.

I was supposed to be on a plane to Italy with Solar this weekend, for the WAO, which is next weekend. Yes, I know, in the grand scheme of things it’s a tiny setback. A bump, a blip. And a few months from now I’ll be fine, but I am still having a hard time emotionally, and feel wrung out most of the time, at arm’s length from sadness, and also at arm’s length from real enjoyment of day to day activities. I entered the USDAA trial at the last possible second, hoping it would get my mind off of things, and it did…sort of. Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby…but we got by.

Jester got to play this weekend for a few runs. Dear Jesse – complicated, smart, and sound as a horse at 10.5 years old. He’s been going on lots of long romps in the forest, and has been staying in shape with conditioning, but I don’t as a general rule do any agility with him. He knows it all anyway. Even though I had plans to refresh his memory this week before the show, other plans took priority, and, well…you’re seeing Jester seeing agility equipment for the first time in a while.

He won both of the classes he was entered in, but by the end of the second run, it was clear that he was in great pain at the finish line…but only for a few seconds. It was very strange. No limping, just a momentary pain that seemed to be on his left side. He has a large fatty tumor on his left shoulder, just where he hits the poles on entry, so I’m wondering if that is causing some nerve pain of some sort. As he’s otherwise healthy, and more fun to run than ever before, I’m not *quite* ready to retire him completely, so it’s off to the vet to see about getting rid of that golf ball he’s been carrying around for a while. It hasn’t bothered him previously, but…it was very sad to see Jester sad, even if only for a moment.

Frodo finished his starter’s title (AD) with a couple of standard legs, and won Fancy Agility, which he needed a Q in to finish up his qualifications for Cynosport. He was, for the most part, “normal” this weekend, so I’m hopeful that our new routines are helping him. We’ve decided to neuter Frodo (happening right now!) so hopefully that will help as well.

I used to read Silvia Trkman’s descriptions of autistic Bu and wonder what she was talking about, really…but with Bu’s nephew Frodo…I “get” it now. Yes, his runs look pretty decent, for the most part - but I’m not in the habit of posting runs where he hides in a tunnel, or is suddenly afraid of something in the middle of a run. So, you will only get to see the best of Frodo – and hopefully, as he matures, and as we figure out how to navigate the big scary world together, there will be more and more of that.

Juno was the superstar of the weekend. She only had one run today, and headed off course a few obstacles in – and I was so happy about that! She headed off course, AND then she came back and we had a VERY happy run. Juno and I have been on a new training program too, so I was curious to see if there would be any difference in the ring after just one week with what I’m calling operation hand target. She’s entered in two more trials at the end of the month, and I’m very much looking forward to them to see how things turn out.

Chipper will be a year old in a month, and our training continues. He’s the perfect balance of fun-loving and problem solving, go-get-em and team player. I’m looking forward to his debut later this year…all in good time. I’m in no hurry with him and I’ve definitely got my hands full with training projects.

So, all in all, it was a good weekend. Even so…I will be happier when I can use real sweetener :)


Originally published at DaisyPeel.com. Please leave any comments there.

27th-Apr-2014 03:50 pm - Brave face

Solar was diagnosed a few weeks ago in Maryland with bilateral iliopsoas tendinopathy, and was injected with stem cells at VOSM. His prognosis is good, and hopefully with great rehab help from Bobbie we’ll be back to what we love to do in just a few months time.

I’ve waited to write any thoughts about his injury until I felt like I could do so without sounding whiny or depressed. No, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s still pretty depressing. I still haven’t called to cancel my plane tickets for International Team Tryouts or Italy, I just can’t face it quite yet. I was so excited about the trip, and Solar and I were such a team…sigh. Solar will be seven next month, and although as a team we’ve certainly had an illustrious career, I’m not ready for it to be over yet, and I don’t think Solar is either.

So, I’ve turned my attention to learning all I can about rehab so that I can get on the ball (no pun intended) as soon as possible, so that Solar and I can get back to doing what we love, together, as soon as possible.

In the meantime, Chipper is nearly ready to start some training with – weave poles and running contacts and flatwork oh my! He is so much fun to live with and to train, I am excited about our journey together. Chipper does not see any need to try to fill his father’s shoes, he’s got his own shoes on, and they are glitzy and shiny and spunky and FUN. He sinks his teeth in to things with me in a “game on” sort of way that surpasses even Solar’s sense of sport, and every step we take together is pure joy. I’m not in any hurry to finish his training, the process itself is so enjoyable. And he’s gung ho to play – not in a crazy spastic sort of way, but in a “I’m gonna figure this out and then we are going to KILL it together” sort of way. Right up my alley.

And, I continue to try to sort out how things will end, or continue, with Mr. Frodo and me. My dogs are my pets. I love squeezing them, hugging them, sleeping in the bed with them. I do not want dogs that are happier living in a kennel than in the house with the “family”. I’ve never been able to stick with rigid crate training or confinement regimens, that’s just now it rolls around here. My dogs are by no means my children, or a proxy for children, but they ARE creatures I highly enjoy spending time with. Not just agility time, or training time…couch time, mealtime, bedtime, tv time…. And yet, with Frodo spending his days in a kennel run, aside from some training time with me, or walks, EVERYbody is happier. I’m happier, Solar, Jester, and Juno is happier, and, well, Chipper is always happy anyway. And Frodo is a LOT happier.

He only has one descended testicle, so he is scheduled to be neutered in the next week, and I’m hoping that this will do something to calm his anxious temperament, and to help make him not such a target for the other dogs in the house. Hopefully, without the hormones, and with the change in living conditions, it will all work out, and in a year’s time, I’ll be looking back on how difficult Frodo’s adolescence was, grateful that the phase is over. Based on some advice from blog readers, I’ll probably have a thyroid panel done just to make sure his thyroid is normal as well, but I’m pretty sure that Frodo’s behaviors are “just Frodo”.

At the end of the day, if you ask me if I’d rather have a great pet who doesn’t like agility, or an agility genius who isn’t a great companion…well, I’d like to have BOTH a great companion and an agility genius, but if I have to choose, I’m going to choose a great COMPANION first and foremost.


Originally published at DaisyPeel.com. Please leave any comments there.

11th-Apr-2014 08:23 am - 2014 Americas Y El Caribe

With Solar on the injured reserve list, it was just Frodo and me headed to Peru last week. Talk about a strange idea – travelling to a big international competition without Solar?

Kind of felt like I had forgotten to take something really, really important. Like an arm, or a leg. Or my heart.

But, I figured it would be a good way for Frodo and I to spend some time together without Solar there to steal the limelight. So, off we went, all outfitted for the travel.

Crate by Impact Case and Crate

Crate by Impact Case and Crate

Frodo has been challenging and different from the beginning. Afraid to go through doorways, afraid to walk on certain floors, afraid of certain people, and of children. He can be elegant and graceful at one moment, and the next moment, he is smashing in to things like a long-legged spider on an ice skating rink. I took him on originally because I was curious, and boy, did I get a training challenge! Even clicker training him to do simple tricks was a challenge; he would stand very very still, and then go hide, or lay down on the floor and go to sleep. And I am a patient person :) Sometimes, we would have sessions like this and then by some magic, the very next day, he would offer the behavior we’d been working on as though he’d always known it all along!

While all of my other dogs are pestering me as I work outside on the property, Frodo is nowhere to be found, having wandered off to follow his nose. However, wander near the garden hose, and somehow sensing I’ve done so, Frodo suddenly appears to attack the hose violently. Despite all of his oddities, Frodo actually seems more comfortable travelling and on the road than he does at home. Perhaps because he’s happier in a kennel or crate than he is loose, not sure what then to do with himself. Perhaps because on the road, his options are very limited – in the crate, out of the crate, with me, a walk, agility, back in the crate. Who knows.

Needless to say, I had NO idea how international travel and Frodo would react to one another. He’s been on planes before, but only up and down the West Coast. It’s a big jump to be in a crate for 12+ hours, heading to another country. Would he rise to the occasion, or would the trip be too much for him?

I met up with Stacy Goudy and Oscar Daste, the latter of whom would be translator and assistant to me as Team Leader (another first for me!). We met at the DFW airport, and together, the three of us headed down to Lima, another 6.5 hour flight.

Stacy, Daisy, and Oscar

Stacy, Daisy, and Oscar


We got to Peru just fine, the crate was fine, the dogs were fine. Frodo looked perfectly happy in his crate, and seemed to have weathered the trip just fine. The customs agents were fine too – so fine that they felt no need to move at more than a snail’s pace. Literally. Reach for an object ~12″ in front of you. If you reached that object in less than 5 seconds you’re going WAY faster than the customs agents in Peru were moving.

Our apartment in Peru was lovely, organized by Oscar. Because of a last minute venue change, competitors staying in the hotels near us, and including us, all got on hired buses in the morning to be taken to the event. We spent about 3.5-4 hours on the bus in total each day, commuting back and forth from the event. We were on the bus by 6am in the morning, and got back to the apartment around 9:30-10pm each evening. So, looong days.

The show site was lovely, and everything was well organized. Well, except for a personal elevator to deal with these:


48 Stairs. Yes. We Counted.

48 Stairs. Yes. We Counted.

As Team Leader, I was up and down those stairs at least a dozen times each day. One day I stopped counting at 15 times (up and down). By this point I was pretty happy I only had one dog to climb those stairs for…

The event is already getting fuzzy in my mind – it feels like it was so long ago already. The hot weather, long days, and trying to make sure I did my best as Team Leader made for a pretty tiring trip. But at the end, I was happy to have been able to be at the event with a lovely group of people, and overall, we had some great finishes for Team USA, by our small dog team of Howard Boyle, Denise Kilpatrick, Karen Holik, and Rita Berardino. Rita also cleaned up in the Open Individual competition, winning gold overall, and was on the podium a couple of other times as well. Go Rita!

2014 Americas Y El Caribe Team

2014 Americas Y El Caribe Team

Stacy Goudy and SoBe also had some incredible runs, and were a pleasure to watch.

It was an interesting and thrilling experience for me to play the part of Team Leader – to be on the other side of things. I really enjoyed it, although as a first-timer, there were a lot of things I would do differently the next time around. The thing I enjoyed most was that I found that I had a heightened interest in how each and every team member did – I felt pride when they did well, and disappointment on their behalf when they didn’t. Not that I wouldn’t under other circumstances, but for some reason, those feelings were heightened by being “in charge”. I liked it, and I’m looking forward to doing it again next year, in Brasil.

The event was well organized, the courses were fantastic and fun to watch, and the competition was as always thrilling, even when it was boiling hot. I left inspired by what is possible between a dog and a person, when both seek a common purpose together. Fun, speed, competition! All those elements wrapped up together.


And, Frodo did OK with the travel. In the beginning he did more than OK. Our apartment had stairs AND slippery floors, and Frodo was able to walk normally on both. He took the busy Miraflores streets in with a minimum of disturbance. As the event progressed throughout the weekend, his baby brain melted down, and when kids started running around Saturday and Sunday, he turned into a shaking puddle.

Of course, as an FCI event, bitches in season are allowed, and Frodo found this to be overwhelmingly distracting as well. The heat and humidity down on the artificial turf probably didn’t help keep him from melting mentally. Saturday night, he had his first run ever in the dark under bright lights, and he seemed to like it. In general, he seemed more comfortable under cover of night, barking as he approached the ring, looking excited to head in and GO. But in the daylight, the heat, with children running around…Poor, awkward Frodo :)

For a dog so young he had some very respectable runs, and I was very proud of how he handled himself, for the most part. During his last run Sunday, something spooked him though, and put him over the top, and although he looked normal going in the ring, he shot off in the opposite direction every time he exited a tunnel, and then tried to hide in the last tunnel – something he hasn’t done in a long time (did I mention he was very, very, very soft?). He was definitely tired and overwhelmed by the experience.

But then, he’s frequently overwhelmed by just me even at home. No matter how small and soft I try to make myself, I’m just not a small and soft personality. I’m direct, purpose-driven, and like to grab onto and shake things, hard, metaphorically speaking. I like to be rough and tumble, assertive, fast – and I like the thrill of a dog who will push back on to that and respond in kind. It’s hard to say how Frodo will turn out, he’s still quite young. It took Jester a while to open up and push back, although Jester was not soft at all compared to Frodo! Frodo is teaching me a lot about myself, about how willing I am to change who I am as a person in addition to changing my behavior as a trainer. Am I willing to tiptoe around the house so that Frodo doesn’t have to? Do I have to snuggle and touch a dog that doesn’t want to snuggle or be touched? Am I willing to kennel or crate a dog that seems happier in a kennel or crate than out of it, when really I’d like to see him as happy as all my other dogs are, lounging loose on the couch? There are a myriad of small interactions that occur each day between any given dog and myself, that add up to a “relationship” – if those interactions are missing, unwanted, or slightly askew, a mimicry of a real interaction, can I say I even have a relationship? If I’ve trained a dog to lie still and look relaxed, is he relaxed, or just engaged in a trained behavior? Does it really make a difference to me? So many questions…

Fly spoiled me. He would shake back, with a gleam in his eye. Solar is like me as well – it’s safe to say I think, and pretty obvious, how well Solar and I mesh with one another. And Chipper…well, I’m head over heels in love with that boy, we are DEFINITELY on the same wavelength. He pushes back most of all, with the biggest naughtiest glint in his eye of all. Juno pushes too…when there are sheep involved :) I can get on HER wavelength and ride with her on it, in the right contexts. The couch, the pasture… :)

And so, at the end, the event was for me a mixed success. I was very proud of the team, and happy to have had a larger team this year. I was thrilled to be able to pull off being team leader, and felt as though I stretched my horizons substantially in that regard. It’s something I’ve wanted to experience for a while, and I’m glad to say that now I’ve experienced it, and would now like to experience it again! My own runs were for me a mixed bag, and I’ll post video as I have time to do so, but the runs of my teammates were something to be proud of, and the real successes of the weekend.

Tuesday, Stacy, Oscar, and myself arrived back in DFW. Frodo slept in his crate throughout the entire customs and passport control process. Tired kid. We parted ways at DFW to head to our respective home airports. I arrived at 3pm, and David and Anna (who had arrived from Germany the day prior) met me at the airport, with a change of suitcase and clothes, and a change of dog. My flight back East to VOSM with Solar was in a mere 4 hours after arrival to PDX.

Now, it’s Friday, and I’m finally headed home from VOSM with Solar – but that is an entirely separate story that deserves its own documentation. For now, I’m pretty much exhausted, and needing a few hours sleep in my own bed. I’m looking forward to seeing my houseguest, Anna, as well as David and the pack of bored Border Collies waiting for me. And then, just a few days til Spring Camp! Lots going on over the next week or so :)


Originally published at DaisyPeel.com. Please leave any comments there.